An Honest Sales Letter from a First Timer

 
Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallMy new friend Rebecca Tracey just wrote a sales letter.

I think it’s rather good. So, I’m going to share it with you – with commentary.

We spoke the other day about her doing a PWYC offer on her nutritional consulting – and the next day – she’s putting it out there.

Writing to promote ourselves (websites, brochures, emails or sales letters) can feel mind numbingly hard. That’s why professional copy writers are paid so well. Or speech writers. The ability to put our notions to words is highly prized. It’s why we love poetry so much I think. Or good authors. They articulate things we can only sense.

So, articulating what we do is tricky.

But it’s harder than that. How do we do it without it feeling slimy? How do we sell ourselves without coming across as cheesy, schmaltzy or crass?

I think Rebecca’s first attempt is actually really full of brilliance. Read along as I comment on things . . .

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REBECCA’S LETTER (from facebook)

Hello friends!

In the past week a few exciting things have happened to me! I sprained my ankle, and I finished nutrition school! I can’t work at my other job right now, so I am combining these events into one great offer for you :)

This is such a great first paragraph. In any sales letter or ad the most important part of it is the ‘headline’. The headline can literally be a headline like a newspaper headline  – but basically it’s the first thing they read. The only purpose of the headline is the get them to read further. Rebecca does this by having us wonder, ‘how will she combine these two things into an offer?’

She creates curiousity and open up a ‘mental loop’ for us.

Also, she bolds “I sprained my ankle, and I finished nutrition school!” This is good. Bold fonts are all too often only used when we’re pitching. “Buy Now!” sort of thing. But she’s calling attention to the two unusual things.

The other things to lift up here: she’s telling us a story. A true story. From her life. The best marketing is all about storytelling. We’re drawn in by good stories.

Another thing: she uses an honest to god happening in her life to offer a special deal. Great businesses do this all the time. Halloween specials, first anniversary specials, ‘we had a baby’ specials. Her angle is saying, ‘my problem is your opportunity’. This is a great angle to use. Whenever minor tragedy befalls you or your business – it can often be turned into a great promotion. Even cheeky ones like this.

Notice how much there is to comment on just in this first paragraph!

First, a little bit on what I do…

I love this. She piques our interest and hooks us with her broken ankle and joblessness but then says, ‘before I tell you about that . . .’ We keep paying attention because we want to hear about the offer. She opens the loop but then talks about something else. She teases with the offer, gets our attention and then opens up another loop for us. Great story telling.

A holistic approach to nutrition recognizes that everything we put into our bodies affects our physical and emotional well-being. Health isn’t the same as “not being sick” – it really is a continuum, and everything we eat, think, and do has the potential to push us down towards the deep dark trenches of disease, or upwards towards amazing and fabulous health. Whether you have a specific health concern (gas and bloating, skin conditions, joint pain, hypoglycemia, trouble sleeping etc etc), or just have low energy, need a boost, or know you could eat/feel better but aren’t sure where to start, a nutritionist (that’s me) will determine what YOUR body needs, and can help implement changes that will immediately affect your health and well-being! And the most amazing thing about this is – WE HAVE A CHOICE about how we want to feel! Can you believe it? We get to choose which way we go on this continuum.

Here she makes a case not just for her particular offer (which she still hasn’t told us yet) but for her industry. She not only makes the case for the consultation with her – but the importance of getting such a consultation. Important! If someone’s not open to having this kind of consult before they aren’t even going to be open to hearing about working with you in particular.

Often before we educate people about our particular approach, perspective or offers – we need to educate them on the importance of our entire field.

Before they could sell any Palm Pilots (remember those?) they had to market the category of Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s – remember when that meant public display of affection?). Before Apple could market their particular brand of personal computers, they had to market the IDEA of personal computers.

Marketing is all about education. And sometimes we need to start with a higher level of education than we might expect.

Technical note: a copywriters rule. No paragraph should have more than five lines. Visually it’s easier to read if you break up the text into smaller chunks.

So – What do you choose?

…. Did I fool you with that trick question? Obviously you would choose to feel amazing!

I love her charm, humour and quirk here. This letter really comes alive with her personality and genuineness. She asks a leading question and then jokes about it being a leading question. Fun.


I’m excited to extend an offer to all my friends, family, friends of friends and anyone who wants great health (pass this on to anyone you know who may be interested!)

She’s just starting out and so she’s working her own network first. This is a natural place to start. It’s certainly the easiest. As she develops – she’ll likely start to honing in on particular niches.

 

I am offering a limited number (10 only!) of nutritional consults avec moi on a pay-what-you-can (PWYC) basis.

At last! The offer! But the nature of the offer hooks us again.

Why?

Two reasons:

1) Genuine scarcity. Robert Cialdini speaks about the power of scarcity to influence people ethically (and not so ethically). In this case, it’s ethical. She genuinely only wants to offer ten of these consultations. Due to her schedule, desires and whims – there are only ten of these spaces. Fair enough. But being real – having only ten available makes us pay attention more. If she’d said ‘there are 100’ we’d all sit back and relax. ‘I’ll get to it tomorrow’ we’d tell ourselves. And likely – we never would.

2) Pay what you can basis? What? Tell me more. The nature of this offer raises questions immediately. ‘What does she mean? Why is she offering this?’ And this makes us want to read on.

Normally, a one hour nutrition consult, complete with personalized recommendations and handouts with healthy tips, recipes, and the chance to ask all your burning health questions, would come at a cost of anywhere from $125-150.

A full-on Nutribody assessment, which includes a personalized nutrition, supplement, and lifestyle protocol  (with meal plan and recipes) based on your specific biochemical imbalances, would run you around $300.

I love this. Immediately – she establishes the value of the session. This is so vital if you’re doing pay what you can or sliding scale. Or offering any sort of deal. It’s too easy for people to devalue what you’re offering, see it as ‘free’ or think of their payment as a good hearted donation (and aren’t you lucky to get it).

I am offering both of these services, and you can decide which one you want and how much you pay me for them.

Great. This is really clear. Now she’s told us what she promised to tell us at the start. But we find ourselves wondering, ‘why?’ And next she answers that. And this is a key in copywriting. Sales letters should be read like conversations – raising points and anticipating their questions and then answering them.

Why would I offer you such a great deal?

Well, 3 reasons actually.

1. I am a recent graduate and am still looking to get experience. This doesn’t mean you will get a lesser  quality service than what anyone else would offer. It just means that I am tweaking my style and need you wonderful people to help me learn what works best to serve my clients.

This is really honest. It’s transparent. It’s open. And it’s self respecting. It makes sense. And this is vital. Our offers must make logical sense to people. If it seems ‘too good to be true‘ they won’t buy. Or if it seems like we’re setting ourselves up to be taken advantage of – people often won’t want to participate.

Or if they think, ‘oh. it’s cheaper so it won’t be as good‘ they won’t buy. If you are making an offer with a price different than the norm – charging less than normal, more than normal or in a different way than normal (e.g. PWYC) then we need to explain why or it can be unsettling for people.

2. I recently sprained my ankle (ouch!) and am off work for the time being. What a great gift the universe has given me – the time to really focus on getting my nutrition practice started! And because I want to make it really easy for you to take advantage of this, I’m offering it on the assumption that you will pay what you reasonably think it was worth based on what you can afford.

Again – quirky. Honest. Real. Positive.

3. Everyone is entitled to good health, no matter how rich or broke you are. Unfortunately, the cost of service of many natural health care providers deters people from visiting them, which keeps them in a state of mediocre health. Everyone deserves to feel great! If you have the money to pay me what it would normally cost – wonderful. If you can only afford less than that, I trust that you will be honest and fair in what you decide to pay me.

Two great things about this.

First of all, she’s sharing her politics. Her worldview. She speaks to her desire for fairness and accessibility. This is something that will resonate with everyone. It also shows that she’s got an interest in this beyond the selfish, ‘i’m in it for myself‘ motives many ascribe to business. This makes her more trustworthy. She’s naming a larger cause than profit.

Second of all, for the second time in this letter she’s saying, ‘I trust you.’ And that’s far more trust inducing than saying, ‘trust me.’ When people say, ‘trust me’ we start to back away. That’s what politicians say. But when someone says, ‘I trust you’ we melt. We open. We feel seen and cared for. And, there’s something about the way she says it that let’s us know that she respects herself greatly. In all walks of life, self respect is attractive.

Building trust is the hardest thing to do in marketing. And we build trust by honesty.

So what’s the catch? (there is always a catch :)

I love this. She names what we’re thinking. ‘PWYC? Really? This seems too good to be true. Plus, if it is true, I don’t want to take advantage of her. Maybe someone else could afford to pay her more – yes. I’ll let them have a spot.’


I need you to agree to a few pretty simple conditions:

Aha! She puts conditions on the offer. Self respect! Ironically, these boundaries actually make her offer seem more credible, believable and attractive.

1. You record a food journal of everything you eat for 5 days, and send it to me 24 hours before our first meeting. This is not optional. No food journal, no deal. (Trust me, this is for both of our benefits. I can explain when we meet why this is SO important for your health).

Bam. Clear boundaries. Clear conditions. This one condition will eliminate tire kickers and people who aren’t serious about their health. This will save Rebecca immense amounts of time and frustration (and disappointment). But it will also have the people she consults with showing up ready to go. They’ll be invested in the process in a way that they wouldn’t be without the homework.

2. You tell at least 3 close family members or friends that you will be meeting with me, and ask them for their support along the way. You will work together with them to make a plan that works for you to help keep you connected to why you want to make a change in your life. Changing your diet isn’t always easy. Compliance is a bitch in this industry, and no one should have to do it alone. The more people you have on your team, the more likely you are to stick with it when times get tough. Yes, you can count on me to be here for you, but having friends and family involved is part of the process. You will receive a copy of an email that you can send to your support team. Before we meet, I want to know specifically what you have done to set up this accountability. This shows that you are committed to making the changes required for a happy healthy life!

Brilliant. She’s setting another clear expectation – but this one, like the first, is dual purposed. It sees if they’re serious about the process – but is not random. It’s actually designed to help them integrate it – to get more value from the process. When I read those two I get excited – it feels like, ‘yes. If I did those two things – I can already see myself making progress I’ve not yet been able to make.’

Again – this could be broken up into smaller chunks visually.

3. You must be willing to give me honest feedback (good or bad) within 48 hours of our consult. I want to learn from this too, and your input is essential in helping me help you the best way that I can, and in a way that works for you.

I love this. Love this. This is such a genuine request. By stating this upfront, she’s naming the kind of relationship she’s wanting with her clients. To make this easier – she could write out three questions and email it to them immediately after the session. Sometimes when we ask for feedback, it can feel overwhelming for people. They don’t know where to start. They stare at a blank computer screen wondering what to type to you. Make it easier for them by asking specific questions.

Here are a few of my favourite.

  1. What did you honestly think about working with me before the session? What do you think now?
  2. What is the single most important result or impact that came from our session?
  3. What is it that you see is unique or special about the way I do what I do?

4. You must be able to meet me in the Annex area of Toronto. I have a bum foot and am not so mobile, so I can’t travel far.

Again. Charming and honest. And reasonable.

And that’s important – if you’re going to put in ‘catches’ to your deals (and I suggest they do – they make offers seem more believable) then the catches should make sense. They should feel reasonable.

5. I need you to understand that this is not a free service. PWYC does not = invaluable or free. These services would normally cost $125-300, however, this does not mean that you have to pay this much. This is why it is pay what you CAN… Payment will be made to me 3 days after the consult. You will mail me a check for an amount that you choose, based on what you feel my service was worth and also what you can afford.

I love this! She’s articulating PWYC like an old pro. This is vital. PWYC runs the risk of being seen as ‘free’ or ‘donation’. She is commanding respect here. She speaks right to this. Head on. This. is. not. free. Communicating the value of what we offer can be so hard – especially when it’s pay what you can.

That’s it. Sound fair? It is :)

If you are interested in booking an appointment, I will be offering this to 10 clients only.

She reminds us of the scarcity. Smart.

Give me a call or send me an email if you want to take advantage of my busted foot graduation offer!!

Please include you name and contact info, and  a brief note about why you want to see me, what you hope to get out of our consult, and any specific health conditions you are working with.

416. 660. 0453

xx becca

 

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About Tad

  • Thank you for this feedback! I guess I do have some idea of what I am talking about! Of course, you get all (ok, most) of the credit. I love that from the time I said “Hey Tad, what’s the deal with PWYC”, to you posting this, it was a period of less than 24 hours! We rock!

  • Fantastic article Tad!
    I love your methodology here–it’s really a great learning tool.
    I’m love PWYC or as I call PWYW (Pay What You Will).
    Your articulation of the process is masterful (as is the letter of your pupil, as you point out)
    :-)
    Best,
    Bryce

  • hey bryce! thank you so much for your comments. yeah. i love commentary on real things. I find them useful myself. have you been fiddling with PYWC?

  • Rebecca. You’re brilliant. Really.

  • Andrea Gietz

    This is fabulous and very helpful. Your post is delightfully warm and straightforward, Rebecca, and your commentary very a masterly piece of coaching, Tad.

    Many thanks to you both!

    Andrea Gietz
    The Moving Hearts Guide to Real Relating

  • Andrea! so glad you liked it. and yes – warm and straightforward. good words. that’s what it is. she’s a natural.

  • Amy

    Yes! I appreciate your interpretation of Rebecca’s offer and her willingness to offer it. Straight from the heart, both of you. Thanks :)